I will never forget the Christmas of 2015. All was well, stockings had been passed around, and gifts had been unwrapped including the dog’s special treats. This year they had received a bone that was hollowed out and filled with a flavorful concoction of which they would happily lick out over a long period of time. Rarely would they ever actually chew on the bone itself until this wonderful Christmas day. It was not more than 15 minute after receiving their bone that Marley (my shepherd mix) came up to me profusely drooling from the right side of her mouth and whimpering. Startled, I immediately lifted her lip and saw that she had created a severe slab fracture of her 4th premolar (the largest 3 rooted tooth in a dog) with significant pulp exposure.
This is a very painful condition and even more so serious due to the amount of pulp exposure, which is the alive portion of the tooth that can easily develop infection if left untreated. I knew immediately that this would require dental surgery to remove the broken tooth and subsequent roots so that she would not develop a future infection. Thankfully, she was able to have the procedure performed the next day and was on the road to recovery. Missing that tooth has not diminished her ability to chew or play with other appropriate toys and still is happy to chew on the correct bones that will hopefully not cause her future tooth fractures.
Despite my best intentions with giving fun new Christmas bones, I quickly learned that we have to be careful what we give our pets despite it being a special time of celebration. I hope others can learn from my story and think twice about what they are choosing to spoil their pets with during this Christmas Season. If you find that your pet is also a victim of a Christmas gift gone wrong, the doctors at the Animal Hospital at Lake Brandt are more than happy to help give you and your pets the treatment it needs to continue to enjoy this Christmas season.
Catherine Smith, DVM